Emily is an athlete who enjoys sharing practice tips and methodology with others through writing.
Who wouldn't want to add another nasty pitch to their arsenal? Learning how to throw a sinker is one of the best ways to begin expanding your repertoire because it does not require any funky stress on your arm that a curveball or slider do. Parents can rest easy knowing that this pitch will not torque the shoulder or elbow of their young pitcher in a way that could cause problems down the road.
The arm motion is essentially the same as for a fastball, with a slightly different flavor. A sinker is also fairly easy to pick up, so it can be mastered rather quickly and used effectively in your next game. So, without further ado, let's get into the specifics of how to throw a sinker that will bring batters to their knees!
There are actually multiple ways to throw an effective sinker. The main thing that is different about each method is the grip. The arm motion stays the same, so let's start there first.
The Arm Motion
The video above goes into this a little bit, but I'll mention it here, too. Essentially, the entire arm motion is identical to your fastball pitch, with the exception of the release. Upon releasing the sinker, your index finger should be in front of your middle finger.
A good way to think about the wrist action associated with how to throw a sinker correctly is that it is like you are showing off a big diamond ring on your index finger to the batter. Your palm will face slightly out, rather than directly down like it would with a regular fastball.
My Grip: The picture above is the grip that I fell in love with and used effectively for almost 10 years. The reason I like that grip is that the ball spins very similarly to the classic 4-seam fastball, so the batter is less able to tell which pitch is coming based on the spin of the ball.
The Classic Grip: Although there are multiple grips you should try out when first learning, the classic sinker grip is demonstrated in the video. With the classic grip, there will be more seams visible to the batter, so they will have a better clue of what's coming. Especially as batters get older and more experienced, they will learn to pick up the spin right out of the pitcher's hand. If a ball appears to spin the same way as a fastball, but then ducks at the last second, that batter won't know what to do with it!
Sinker vs. Splitter Grip: There are other pitches that sink, like a splitter, so sometimes the language gets confusing. For the sake of differentiation, a sinker is typically expected to deviate slightly to the inside of a right-handed batter as it drops, whereas a classic splitter will just drop straight down. The splitter grip is also harder to get a handle on, especially for young pitchers whose hands are not as big yet.
Which Grip Should I Choose?
There are other grips you can use when figuring out how to throw a sinker, too. Play around with which one works best for you. As long as you are getting the desired movement and rotation on the ball, the best grip for your sinker will ultimately be what is most comfortable to you and what you can control the best.
It's All About the Approach
There's a lot more to pitching than just throwing a baseball. Now that you have had an introduction to the specifics of how to throw a sinker, the next step is to understand the impact of your pitching approach on the effectiveness of your pitches.
The right approach will enhance the effect of each of your pitches by keeping hitters off balance and not knowing what to expect. This is accomplished by doing everything in your power to keep your body language and mechanics the same no matter what pitch you're throwing. Sometimes you can just see it in a pitcher's eyes when he is about to throw an off-speed pitch. Other times, he slows his wind-up down or even speeds it up.
The less you change, the more you keep the batter guessing. The more you keep the batter guessing, the less confident he will be, and you can't hit well without confidence. Keep batters on their toes!
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Rob MacKnight from San Diego, CA on May 25, 2014:
Very nicely explained! As a guy who has been on the hill for 26 years and still loves getting guys out, I appreciate your clear explanation. In seeing the alternate grip, I had to laugh, because I threw all of my fastballs while pitching for San Diego City College with a no-seam grip. It squirted out of my hand like a wet bar of soap. My manager kindly said years later that my ball moved more than anyone's, which was a nice way of saying "boy, that kid sure was wild". I was a 20 year old "thrower" who really had no clue about "pitching". I'd get into games and allow adrenaline and inexperience to rule me. With experience and maturity, you learn to pitch, and your wise counsel on the sinker is useful for any hurler...thanks!
Frank Slovenec from San Francisco, CA on August 21, 2012:
Love the game and anyone who will take the time to teach some of the finer points! Thanks